News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

New timber harvesting rules approved for state

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

State officials have established new timber harvesting rules covering more than 10 million acres of private, city, state, county and tribal forests in Oregon.

The process, required by Senate Bill 1501, passed by the 2022 legislature, approved more than 100 changes to the state Forest Practices Act, and included representatives from conservation and fishing groups as well as the timber industry. The rules do not affect national forests managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

The goal of the work, state officials said, is to “provide long-term certainty to industry while providing enhanced protection to critical aquatic species.”

“The rules we adopted,” said Oregon Board of Forestry Chair Jim Kelly, “are just one of a great many changes coming from the Private Forest Accord that will advance how Oregon protects its natural resources and responds to the climate change crisis, while also providing some stability for the communities and economies that rely on the forest products industry. 

“This agreement captures the spirit of cooperation and negotiation we have in this state, where we move past our differences to find solutions.” 

“The timber industry is vital to many rural Oregon communities. This agreement balances these critical social and economic components with the need to better protect critical forest habitat, which is also incredibly beneficial for Oregonians.”

Key changes called for n the new agreement include:

New and wider stream buffers to protect stream habitat that supports salmon, steelhead, bull trout, and amphibians. 

New design standards and requirements to inventory, maintain and manage forest roads, with an emphasis on replacing culverts on fish-bearing streams.

Retaining more trees on steep slopes to improve slope stability and reduce sediment that can impact fish habitat. 

Enhanced monitoring to better evaluate rule compliance.

A new adaptive management program to advise the Board of Forestry on future rule adjustments.

The rules were approved at a special board meeting on Oct. 26. The board meeting followed three days of public hearings on Sept. 26-28, with public information meetings held earlier in Roseburg, Pendleton, Forest Grove and via Zoom.

The process also creates a small forestland owner assistance office, establishes tax credits for small landowners, starts the development of a habitat conservation plan for aquatic species for aquatic species and makes investments in training and outreach.

Working forest entities participating in the process included Campbell Global, Greenwood Resources, Hampton Lumber, Lone Rock Resources, Manulife Timberland and Agriculture, the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, Port Blakely, Rayonier, Roseburg Forest Products, Seneca Sawmill/Sierra Pacific Industries, Starker Forests and Weyerhaeuser. 

Conservation and fishing groups participating in the process included the Audubon Society, Beyond Toxics, Cascadia Wildlands, the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Northwest Guides and Anglers, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Rogue Riverkeep, Trout Unlimited, Umpqua Watersheds and the Wild Salmon Center.

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